The Garden Pantry at Hartford House
The magic of Hartford House is something one understands only by spending time there. There is a sense of wonder and charm that is chiselled onto the pristine green canvas of the surrounding fields. The sounds of birds, the distant bray of horses and the scent of fresh crisp ozone are just some of its charms.
However there is something new and fantastic brewing in the Hartford Kitchen and his name is Constantijn Hahndiek. Unpretentious, quiet, composed, Constantijn has the aura of a genius in Chef’s clothing, and it did not take long for him to wow us out of our winter socks. Everything is prepped and created from scratch. Ingredients are sourced locally where possible and sampled by the Goss family, who are used to culinary excellence, having won most of the national gastronomic awards.
There is no denying it is some of the best food I have tasted; scented crispy breads served with light and fragrant herby mousse butter, sweet watermellon, cream blue cheese and soya infused seeds were an experience I will not forget, especially as it was felt by the room filled with distinguished guests from around the globe. The hush settled among us, which soon turned into wow, yum and some innocent giggles of delight.
There is no denying the genius of chef Constantijn Hahndiek, his inconspicuous demeanour is easy to digest, when he stands before his diners he appears shy and unassertive, his words, “thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you,” were a perfect indication of where our meal was going, because the next course of smoked mash, asparagus and crispy duck was to die for.
The combination of flavours, the grouping of textures and colours, the tiny little spots of flavour bursts dotted the spread of the delicate white china plate… the entire presentation was a work of art… an indication of an artist’s masterpiece.
A lot of what was on our plate came from the expansive herb garden situated right behind the kitchen. The fresh chives, the crunchy baby radishes and the succulent beets were all sourced from the immaculate green beds that are lovingly cared for by the GM, Duncan Bruce, whose vision is to one day use only home grown produce in his restaurant.
And so it came down to the finale, the dessert of ginger soufflé served with gooseberries infused in mustard sauce, sprinkled with tapioca flour which had been permeated with hazelnut oil – honestly, there are no words, you have to experience these tastes to believe them.
Extracts from The Bugle